Democrats and their allies are racing to sway a runoff in Georgia that could prove the key to controlling the Senate.
Neither incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss nor Democratic challenger Jim Martin won more than 50 percent of the vote in the Senate race on Election Day, necessitating a runoff election on Dec. 2 that “will help determine whether Democrats gain a supermajority in the Senate,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Democrats now have 57 seats in the Senate. Two other races, in Alaska and Minnesota, are undecided and could fall into Democratic hands.
In Minnesota, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken are headed for a recount that could last into December.
In Alaska, the count continues between Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, a convicted felon, and Democrat Mark Begich.
If Democrats win both races, gaining Chambliss’ seat in Georgia would give them the 60-vote majority they would need to overcome a Republican filibuster.
The bottom line: As long as Senate Republicans can muster the 41 votes required to avoid cloture, which ends a filibuster debate, they can continue to filibuster — forcing the Democrats to either amend their legislation at the bargaining table or kill the legislation altogether.
And now the Democrats are flocking to Georgia to assure that doesn’t happen.
“Democrats have sent their own pitches to Washington interest groups on behalf of Mr. Martin,” the Journal reports. “Officials from labor unions, abortion-rights organizations and other pro-Democratic groups are mapping out plans to try to flood the airwaves and put boots on the ground in the coming weeks.”
The Barack Obama campaign has sent about 100 field organizers to Georgia to help with the party’s efforts.
But it’s not known if Obama himself will visit the state to campaign for Martin, which could cast him in a partisan light at a time when he has promised to reach out to his political adversaries, according to the Journal, which observed: “There also is a risk for Democrats that heavy campaigning by Mr. Obama could mobilize Republican voters who might otherwise skip the runoff.”
The Republicans are also going all out to secure Chambliss’ Senate seat. As Newsmax reported earlier, Sen. John McCain was scheduled to be the featured speaker at a Chambliss rally in Atlanta on Thursday, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is expected to join Chambliss on the campaign trail, perhaps as early as Sunday.
McCain carried Georgia by a margin of 52 to 47 percent over Obama. Chambliss won 49.8 percent of the vote on Nov. 4, while Martin had 46.8 percent.
A major wildcard in the race is Libertarian Allen Buckley, who earned 3.4 percent of the vote.
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